Visual Thinker

Stefan took an awkward progression of back-of-house rooms and transformed them into a series of stunning spaces.
— Jamie Drake, Principal, Drake/Anderson

Stefan Steil Opens A Windowless Room

Stefan Steil ’08 (BFA) and ’10 (MFA-2), faculty member and principal of Steilish Interiors & Architecture (, was one of the designers selected to reimagine a room for the 2018 Kips Bay Decorator Show House on New York’s Upper East Side last April. Steil was assigned a windowless L-shaped pantry, a space originally intended to be tucked out of sight. He transformed it into a sitting room meant to encourage a contemplative pause between the interior and exterior, a room designed to evoke the feeling of an open courtyard. His inspiration was the 1985 Merchant-Ivory film A Room with a View, and the design pays homage to the lush romance of Italy with its pronounced love of nature and form. His strategy was to create vistas, and he did so by framing multiple views and creating focal points in the distance.

2018 © Nickolas Sargent Photography

2018 © Nickolas Sargent Photography


Room Details

The ceiling is a three-dimensional installation from M. J. Atelier II, painted and hand-sculpted to create the feeling of looking up at tree branches. The Ayala Serfaty light fixture is reminiscent of clouds.

The almost-black strié wallpaper, with light grout lines, is meant to mimic an exterior stone façade. Steil’s team hand-tore each panel and then applied them over several days.

The photograph is a composite of thousands of images that the artist, Markus Brunetti, took of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Siena. It functions as a “window.”

The sculptural rug is hand-braided wool from artist Dana Barnes, and is intended to introduce texture.